Coppelia is back for a second run and with some new casts to see including Jane Burn and Sarah Wildor. But Christina McDermott and Inaki Urlezaga were to open the new run and what better place to start given I'd seen neither of them dance in it. Somehow McDermott's sunny disposition and sense of comedy would seem custom made for the role I thought. Alas injury knocked Christina out and with her move to the Royal Danish it's sad to think I probably won't see her dance a major role with the Royal Ballet (RB) again. Very sad.
But one dancer's misfortune is another's opportunity and Jaimie Tapper gave us her Swanilda. And full marks to Anthony Dowell for giving us all this opportunity instead of just using one of the other cast Swanilda's.
Tapper actually joined RB from the National Ballet of Canada only this season. She has been immediately noted by many regulars and surely she can't remain a soloist for long is what we are all saying. But this was a first opportunity to see her centre stage and in a principal role...
The Tapper Swanilda is a robust affair I think - bold and brassy in its playing. It's the wonderfulness of the Tapper feet and legs that constantly draws my attention - such speed and precision makes for natural comparisons with Miyako Yoshida: praise indeed. And Tapper is both musical and generous as a dancer: she seems to be part of the piece rather than the star perched a little above and she shares everything with the audience. A good start and she should naturally get more principal roles, though as ever performance slots are very limited.
Urlezaga's Franz looked far too 'nice' to my eye - he just doesn't have the look of a womanising lad. But he has a few performances and I suspect it takes a while for him to get right into a role. William Tuckett's Dr Coppelius was amusing but is not so richly coloured as other's yet - a surprise because Tuckett is one of my favourite character artists. He has been busy of late with his choreography (The Crucible) and I suspect he will develop Coppelius much further yet.
Muriel Valtat was injured which meant that Vanessa Palmer got to do Prayer. What a completely natural and secure performance it was - well rehearsed, confident and I was amazed at the quality of her jump. Good stuff and definitely one of those cameo performances you remember and makes you see a dancer in a new light.
The production overall looks less of a shock now and the bold colours/designs don't stand out quite as much. I still think there is perhaps too much dance for the corps in the first act and the Evening Hours dresses and candles in the last act still look so very odd. But I wouldn't dream of ditching them of course!. A quirky production in part but the audience appreciated a good story, good score and all the abundant happiness on stage. Great cooking ballet I think.